This is a turkey in Turkey.

Thanksgiving is just over a week away and I’ve already placed my turkey order, arranged for cranberries to be smuggled into Italy, and begun assigning side dishes and desserts. This is such a fun and festive and fat time of the year I can hardly wait until November 24 (we are celebrating a few days late this year, since Mamma Parla is landing on Thanksgiving day). There is still a lot to do before now and then, but thankfully most of the errands can be done in and around the Esquilino neighborhood, a short stroll from my apartment.

Unfortunately, there is no one-stop-shop in Rome like the Thanksgiving shop in Paris, but, regardless of where you are based in Rome, you should be able to gather most of what you need for a bountiful feast. Here are some shopping tips:

Turkey: You should be able to order one from your neighborhood butcher with a bit of advance notice. If you let things slide until the last minute, you should be able to find one in the Mercato Esquilino, the new Testaccio market, or at Mercato Trionfale fairly easily. Many standard Italian ovens can accommodate a 7-8kg bird. Hande of Vino Roma has had success with the San Bartolomeo free range organic turkeys from Annibale. I’ve been very happy with turkeys from Macelleria Stecchiotti on Via Panisperna in Monti in years past. This year I’m getting a 16-pounder from Bottega Liberati.

Sweet potatoes: These are labeled patate americane and you are most likely to find them at the Piazza Vittorio, Testaccio, or Trinofale markets or in the international food shops in the Esquilino. They also sell them at Campo de’ Fiori but the prices are absurd. Pick these up a few days in advance. I waited until the eleventh hour last year and had to scramble to find 5 sweet potatoes in Piazza Vittorio. If you are down with marshmallows on your sweet potatoes, Castroni’s got em. You will also find various “patate americane” at Er Cimotto in Trastevere and in Campo de’ Fiori, but prices are generally lower in the aforementioned locations.

Cranberry Sauce: Castroni (several locations) and Selli International on via dello Statuto 28 both carry the vomitous canned stuff. For the real thing, you are probably going to have to get them in from France or Great Britain. Gillian McGuire suggests an alternative: “the lingonberry jam sold at Ikea is a terrific cranberry sauce stand-in.” She also adds, “I have bought fried onions there-an essential ingredient for greenbean casserole”. Her app Rome for Expats has lots of tips and resource for finding American ingredients, in general.

Stuffing: Last year I made stuffing with bread from Roscioli. I got 3 types, cut them into cubes and toasted them. I added sausage from Sartor in the Testaccio Market to the recipe. I gave this dish the humble moniker, “Best Stuffing Ever”.

Corn bread: Corn meal is sold in Selli, Castroni, and Elite supermarkets.

Apple sauce: Tart green apples from Trentino (widely available) will do the trick.

Squash: The international shops around Piazza Vittorio have a good selection of squash varieties.

Pumpkin Pie: Fresh pumpkins are sold all over Rome. Castroni carries the canned stuff.

And last but not least, if (like me) you break 6 place settings a year, you will need to stock up on new dishes and whatnot. For a variety of cheap household goods you might need (including napkins, silver wear, candles, glasses, bizarre centerpieces, and unsightly tablecloths), check out MAS. And even if you don’t need any of those things go to MAS anyway because it is completely weird and fun.

Updated from 2011 version.

Explore related categories:
America · Food & Wine · Gastronomic Traditions · Rome & Lazio

18 Comments:


  • This sounds like it’s gonna be a hell of a meal! God I love Thanksgiving!


  • Wow! I think you have a great feast in the works. We’ll do Thanksgiving at home in OR, but will be in Roma for Natale. Hope you’ll be doing a round-up of restaurants open for Christmas again this year!


  • i’m trying to make a pomegranate sauce as sub for cranberries. what about wild rice? canestro? castroni?

  • Katie

    @Angie its gonna be ridiculous

    @Laurel yes i will be doing a post on restaurants open for xmas (eve & day) and New Year’s eve. stay tuned!

    @e oooh that’s very interesting. let us know how that turns out! for rice, i would check out Emporio delle Spezie in Testaccio.


  • This is going to be a great thanksgiving dinner!


  • Love the MAS shout out! Pope t-shirts and cheap dinner ware for all!

    My butcher in San Lorenzo had no problem securing a turkey for me. Unfortunately, he has not been able to share size or pricing information quite yet.

    I have a feeling this will be a large/expensive Italian surprise.


  • This is the problem with being English. There’s just not enough food related holidays…


  • Thx Katie for ordering the bird….and now for the fun times shopping for all the fixings!


  • yiiii- great Thanksgiving Dinner. i wish i could be there. i would have brough the wine :) x s


  • Post idea: Let’s see some sweet potato/candied yam recipes! Mamma Parla? To marshmallow or not to marshmallow? I’ve never made them but have promised to do so for our feast, and have looked at about 100 recipes… need a suggestion from the masters! :-)

  • Katie

    @hande i want it to last forever

    @natalie just scored some cheap dinnerware today. i am the proud owner of some hideous knives.

    @kris i wish i could donate some to you!

    @mamma p yipee!

    @s wish you could be there too. it’s an annual thing and you have a standing invite:)

    @steve we are a no marshmallow family and have a SUPER easy recipe:

    Boil or bake 8 yams or sweet potatoes until skin begins to visibly separate. let cool and peel skin. in a bowl, mix yams, a stick of butter and cinnamon, nutmeg and salt q.b.

  • Katie

    @steve duh forgot the rest. whip together and put in an oven safe dish. you can make this in advance and reheat it before serving


  • Any restaurant suggestions for displaced Americans on holiday in Rome on Thanksgiving? It’s really exciting to hear that there are so many food options to make one’s Thanksgiving dinner in Rome!! Have a delicious homemade Thanksgiving dinner! PS what kind of pies do you make?

  • Katie

    @Cindy SO SORRY for not replying earlier. things have been pretty crazy with the thanksgiving holiday. i hope you found some great food on thanksgiving. i found out late in the day that my favorite pizzerias (tonda & sforno) were serving “thanksgiving pizza” with slow-cooked turkey toppings. my mom and i didnt prepare any pies, but our friends brought apple pie and pecan pie.there was also tons of cheese and chocolate cake for dessert!


  • Mille Grazie!!! We moved to a town about 45 minutes outside of Roma; our two local butchers said only the breast or part of the turkey can be obtained. We were settling for Chicken this year but thanks to you we found these very large markets to have everything we have been missing. My daughters are very excited to be able to have our traditional meal this year. Thank you so much.


  • And pecan nuts, if called for, from Emporio delle Spezie…


  • [...] an apartment and want to cook your own Thanksgiving masterpiece, see this ParlaFood article: Thanksgiving in Rome And to any fellow organic vegans out there, you're in luck. The BeeHive is offering up this: [...]


  • Hi! Your post has been very helpful, as I am living in rome and planning a thanksgiving dinner. Any word on where to purchase packed brown sugar and corn syrup? For pecan pie of course.
    Thanks!

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